Sunday, September 20, 2015

Sunday Top 10 - Performers of the 2015 Preseason

The 2015 preseason is over and the regular season is just around the corner. It's time to take a look at some of the top performances of this year's exhibition action.

As always, this list is populated by players without NHL affiliations (first or second year players, and undrafted veterans), because they get into more games.

Here were the preseason standings (ignoring divisions):

Eastern Conference
1. Barrie Colts (5-1, .833)
2. Niagara IceDogs (3-2, .600)
3. Hamilton Bulldogs (3-2, .600)
4. Oshawa Generals (3-2, .600)
5. North Bay Battalion (2-2, .500)
6. Sudbury Wolves (2-2, .500)
7. Kingston Frontenacs (1-1, .500)
8. Ottawa 67's (1-2, .333)
9. Peterborough Petes (1-3, .250)
10. Mississauga Steelheads (1-3, .250)

Western Conference
1. London Knights (4-0, 1.00)
2. Kitchener Rangers (3-1, .750)
3. Sarnia Sting (4-2, .666)
4. Saginaw Spirit (2-2, .500)
5. Sault Ste. Marie Greyhounds (1-1, .500)
6. Guelph Storm (2-3, .400)
7. Erie Otters (1-3, .250)
8. Owen Sound Attack (1-3, .250)
9. Windsor Spitfires (1-4, .200)
10. Flint Firebirds (0-3, .000)

This year, the OHL finally decided to join the 21st century and keep preseason stats, box scores, and standings. This obviously makes my job easier as I no longer have to comb through game reports and twitter feeds for unofficial and inaccurate stats. 

So here are this year's top 10 Preseason performers:

10. Chris Paquette - Niagara IceDogs
Paquette is a player I expect to have a big year in Niagara. Tons of offensive talent for him to play with, and he's certainly no slouch in that area. The draft eligible forward is terrific with the puck and has great finishing ability, as evidenced by his 4 goals this preseason. That type of production should continue as he gets ice time in key offensive situations.

9. Ben Garagan - Sudbury Wolves
Garagan has been the surprise of camp for the Sudbury Wolves thus far. A 5th round pick in this year's draft, Garagan beat out higher selections to earn a roster spot. Part of the reason for that was his great production in the preseason with 4 goals. We'll see if he can keep it up all year, but so far he's looking like a steal for a team that seems to be rebuilding the right way.

8. Tyler Parsons - London Knights
Parsons has a very big opportunity in front of him this year. The Knights should be a Memorial Cup contender and Parsons is draft eligible for the first time. With a strong season, he could establish himself as a top 100 selection. So far so good after stopping 61 of 63 shots this preseason, recording wins in both contests he played in.

7. Kenny Huether - Oshawa Generals
Undersized 2nd year forward who apparently came to camp this year in terrific shape, adding strength in order to ensure he makes more of a consistent offensive impact. He played a depth role last year in Oshawa but certainly has an opportunity to secure a top 6 role this season. With  a 4 goal, 2 assist preseason, he's well on his way to doing that.

6. Tyler Boston - Guelph Storm
Guelph's going to be in a tough spot this year, with a very inexperienced roster. They seem to be a consensus selection for the bottom of the Conference. However, 2nd year forward Tyler Boston was terrific in the preseason (3 goals, 3 assists) and looks to be ready for the increased role he'll have to take on this season. If they hope to be competitive, their 2nd year players like Boston (and Carroll, Smith, etc) will have to carry them.

5. Michael Webster - Barrie Colts
Overage defender looks poised to have a very big year on a very good offensive team. With 3 goals and 3 assists in the preseason, Webster has shown that he can handle the increased offensive expectations being placed on him. He'll be counted on as a team leader and a top defender and should be one of the league's breakout stars.

4. Olli Juolevi - London Knights
The Knights looked pretty damn good this preseason, and look well on their way to meeting the high expectations being placed on them early. Their best player this preseason? Rookie defender Olli Juolevi, who had 2 goals and 1 assist in 4 games played and looked like a force at both ends of the ice. He's being touted as a potential top 10 selection come June and that looks pretty accurate to me thus far.

3. Stephen Dhillon - Niagara IceDogs
Fresh off a decent performance at the Ivan Hlinka, Dhillon came to camp very focused and prepared to earn the club's backup spot behind Brent Moran. Considering he didn't let in a single goal this preseason (68 for 68), I'd say he accomplished that and then some. Moran has a lot to prove this year (and I do think he'll have a bounce back season), but it must be comforting to the Dogs that they've got another goalie ready and waiting.

2. Anthony Salinitri - Sarnia Sting
Speedy draft eligible forward looks to be in for a very big year after leading the OHL preseason in goal scoring with 6. Sarnia has a pretty experienced forward group, but not without question marks about who'll be putting the puck in the net. Definitely encouraging to see the improvement Salinitri has shown thus far.

1. Brady Gilmour - Saginaw Spirit
The 6th overall pick in this year's draft, Gilmour was sensational in the preseason. With 8 points (3 goals, 5 assists) in 4 games, Gilmour led the OHL in scoring during the exhibition season. As you'll find out in my upcoming season preview, I have high expectations for the Spirit this year and that's because of a potentially high octane offence, of which Gilmour will be a part of.

Honorable Mention:

Andrew Mangiapane - Barrie Colts
When I release my season preview, you'll see that I've got pretty high expectations for Mangiapane this year. 2 goals and 4 assists in the preseason. This Colts team is going to be a force offensively this year (especially with the return of Kevin Labanc).

Boris Katchouk - Sault Ste. Marie Greyhounds
The Greyhounds only played 2 exhibition games this year, but Katchouk was a factor in both, finishing with 2 goals and 2 assists. The OHL rookie is one of the top 98's who didn't see full time OHL action last year and thus expectations are high for his involvement in Sault Set. Marie's offence this year. He should be a quick riser on draft lists.

Sean Day - Mississauga Steelheads
It's a really big year for Day, as he looks to prove the naysayers wrong. The Steelheads hope to be one of the top teams in the East this year and Day will need to be a difference maker at both ends if they hope to accomplish that. With 3 goals in the preseason, he's at least showed thus far that he's willing to be a bit more aggressive this year.

Lucas Chiodo - Barrie Colts
Pint sized rookie who was one of the last selections of the 2014 priority draft. The 5'6 forward really forced his way into Barrie's plans this year with a 6 point effort this preseason (4 goals, 2 assists). Scoring depth is invaluable and Chiodo might be able to provide that this year.

Taylor Raddysh - Erie Otters
Only played 3 games this preseason, but Raddysh was very effective with 2 goals and 3 assists. The draft eligible winger is going to be a very important player for the Otters this year as they try to establish themselves as one of the top 4 teams in the Conference, despite losing Connor McDavid. 

Sam Harding - Oshawa Generals
A very intelligent two-way center who should have been drafted last year IMO. This year, he'll take on a more critical role in Oshawa's offence and will be able to showcase his abilities offensively. Looked good this preseason with 2 goals and 3 assists. 

Adam Mascherin - Kitchener Rangers
Mascherin looked very good this preseason for Kitchener and seems to be poised for a very big draft season. He had 1 goal and 4 assists in 5 games, but in the one game I saw, he also hit a few posts. 

Michael Pezzetta - Sudbury Wolves
Usually the theme of the preseason is "breakout 2nd year players." Count Pezzetta as one of those. Only played in 2 games for the Wolves, but he had 2 goals and 2 assists in those contests. The draft eligible forward and former first rounder should definitely be better than last year.

Noah Carroll - Guelph Storm
I have very high expectations for this draft eligible defender this year. Reminds me a ton of Travis Dermott. Very poised for his age/experience. He had a terrific preseason with 1 goal and 3 assists and was one of the few Storm players to finish the preseason with a positive +/-

Other Top Performers (Organized By Team):

Barrie Colts
Ben Hawerchuk (1G, 5A)
Roy Radke (3G, 2A)
Julius Nattinen (2G, 2A)
Ruan Badenhorst (.953 Sv%, 1.62 GAA)

Erie Otters
Kyle Maksimovich (2G, 2A)
T.J. Fergus (1G, 3A)
Jake Lawr (0.50 GAA, .971 Sv%)

Flint Firebirds
Will Bitten (3A)
Jacob Collins (2G)

Guelph Storm
Tyler Hill (3G, 2A)
CJ Garcia (2G, 1A)

Hamilton Bulldogs
Stephen Harper (2G, 2A)
Jack Hanley (1G, 3A)
Joseph Mizzi (3G)

Kingston Frontenacs
Jason Robertson (2G)
Jared Steege (2G)

Kitchener Rangers
Darby Llewellyn (3G)
Elijah Roberts (3A)
Luke Opilka (0.00 GAA, 1.00 Sv%)

London Knights
Aaron Berisha (1G, 5A)
JJ Piccinich (1G, 2A)
Brandon Crawley (1G, 2A)

Mississauga Steelheads
Michael McLeod (1G, 2A)
Bryson Cianfrone (3A)

Niagara IceDogs
Mikkel Aagaard (1G, 4A)
Zach Wilkie (1G, 2A)

North Bay Battalion
Max Kislinger (2G, 1A)
Mathew Santos (2G, 1A)
Kyle Moore (2G, 1A)

Oshawa Generals
Joe Manchurek (3G, 1A)
Jack Studnicka (1G, 3A)
Jeremy Brodeur (2.10 GAA, .925 Sv%)

Ottawa 67's
Sam Studnicka (2G, 1A)
Artur Tyanulin (2G, 1A)

Owen Sound Attack
Nick Suzuki (1G, 4A)
Petrus Palmu (3G, 1A)

Peterborough Petes
Jonathan Ang (1G, 3A)
Cam Lizotte (2G)

Saginaw Spirit
Cole Coskey (3G, 1A)
Artem Artemov (2G, 2A)
Keaton Middleton (1G, 3A)
Kiril Maksimov (2G, 2A)
Tye Felhaber (3G)

Sarnia Sting
Patrick White (4G)
Nikita Korostelev (2G, 2A)
Kevin Spinozzi (4A)
Justin Fazio (2.00 GAA, .935 Sv%)

Sault Ste. Marie Greyhounds
Hayden Verbeek (1G, 3A)
Keigan Goetz (1G, 2A)

Sudbury Wolves
David Levin (3A)
Nicholas Romero (2G)
Troy Timpano (.919 Sv%)

Windsor Spitfires
Gabriel Vilardi (1G, 4A)
Logan Brown (3G)
Daniil Vertiy (3G)
Mikhail Sergachev (3A)

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